Speaking Scientist – Amaruk Wolfheart
Spoilers: None, really. Probably takes place somewhere in Season One, though…
Warnings/Pairings: Eh, nothing to warn you about. And I don't have any specific pairing in mind, but you can view it as Weir/Sheppard, or Weir/McKay, or even Sheppard/McKay if you feel so inclined.
Notes: A random SGA idea that popped up out of the strange depths of my mind, which I'm writing mostly to amuse myself. As usual. My first non-Wraith-centric Atlantis fic! Amazing! I'll try to squeeze in a mention of them, though. (snickers) Anyway, enjoy!
-Rutile's Spectacularly Amazing Disclaimer- The writer, to her everlasting sorrow, does not own anything pertaining to or associated with Stargate Atlantis, except an imaginary Steve Plush Doll.
The meeting had just ended with an excited, ready-to-test-the-latest-scheme Rodney McKay leaving for his lab, and Elizabeth Weir was soon the last person left sitting there. Or rather, she thought she was.
Papers gathered, Weir glanced up and was surprised to see John Sheppard still there, staring at her with a sort of mystified awe.
"How do you do it?" he asked, almost reverently.
"Do what?" Weir was nonplussed.
"How do you understand him?"
Now feeling a bit on the slow side, she had to ask, "Understand who?"
"McKay!" Sheppard exclaimed, gesturing toward the door the aforementioned scientist had just exited. "He goes off on one of his rants that no one except maybe Zelenka can process, and here you are actually following along! Most of us lesser mortals have to make do with the smile-and-nod approach, but you actually make sense of it!"
"You've never seemed to have much of a problem understanding him…" Weir began uncertainly.
"Foreign languages aren't my forte," Sheppard grumbled. He paused a moment, then looked up at her beseechingly. "Teach me! Please!"
Once again, Weir drew a blank. "Teach you?"
"Yes. Teach me how to understand the archaic language of Science. I mean, sure it's annoying when he starts speaking it in normal situations like today, but it can be dangerous when we're off-world! I mean, the Wraith could be attacking and he wouldn't speak English."
"I see your point," Weir said gravely, now trying not to smile. "I suppose it's my duty to pass my knowledge on, particularly if it might save lives."
Sheppard nodded emphatically and she did smile.
"In that case, the first thing you need to know is that the branch of Scientist that Rodney speaks is made up of a complex combination of several different languages when speaking aloud. By my estimations, it consists of approximately forty-five percent scientific jargon, thirty-five percent complex words that most people have never encountered, and twenty percent recognizable English."
Sheppard leaned forward eagerly. "Okay, so how do you translate this stuff?"
"In the beginning, it can be quite difficult. One of the reasons I'm at such a level of fluency is simply because I've spent more time dealing with Rodney with most of the others here," Weir explained. "To start with, it's useless to try to memorize all the scientific jargon. Some words and phrases you will learn the meaning of through repetition, and those are usually the ones you need to know."
"So, tune out the astrophysics."
"Er, in most cases… For the unrecognizable English, your biggest help will be context clues. If you consider the sentence as a whole, you can usually guess the meanings of unfamiliar words. Also, I would suggest keeping a dictionary nearby, just in case." At Sheppard's incredulous 'you-honestly-think-I-brought-a-dictionary-to-the-Pegasus-Galaxy?' look, she held up a hand to forestall protest. "You may borrow mine."
Sheppard gave her a 'you-brought-a-dictionary-to-the-Pegasus-Galaxy?' look. Weir raised an eyebrow in a 'well-you-brought-War-and-Peace-to-the-Pegasus-Galaxy-so-I'd-stop-giving-me-those-looks-if-I-were-you' look. Sheppard subsided sulkily, and Weir went on.
"Eventually you'll pick up some of those meanings too, like the jargon. The understandable English should, of course, be no problem. That's your basic crash course in comprehending the archaic language of Science."
"Aren't there any hints besides dictionaries?" Sheppard asked rather plaintively.
"Actually, yes," Weir answered, beginning to wonder if the man had suffered some unfortunately scarring dictionary-related experience as a child. "If you've ever paid attention during one of his Scientific rants, you would have noticed that Rodney uses his hands a great deal to emphasize or illustrate things. By watching and analyzing the motions and gestures he makes, you can usually get a clue as to what he's talking about or what a certain word or phrase means."
Sheppard appeared triumphant as he muttered quietly to himself, "I knew he couldn't be doing that just to make himselflook like an idiot!"
Weir suppressed a snicker. "With time, if you're observant and patient, you'll eventually get the hang of translating when Rodney's speaking Scientist."
"Thanks!" Sheppard flashed a grateful grin at her.
"The dictionary's on the shelf in my office," Weir added helpfully as he stood. Sheppard shivered slightly, then shook it off and bounded out the door, eager as a puppy to put his new knowledge to use. Hopefully Rodney, or at least Radek, would be patient enough to withstand his presence in the lab.
Elizabeth Weir shook her head and smiled to herself as she collected her papers. 'Speaking scientist.' Honestly.
Her last thought as she left the room was to reflect that she might have to ask Kate if there was such a thing as a phobia of dictionaries…